plicity of style and tenderness of sentiment, which continued for so many centuries to grace the best compositions of Arabia. “Its subject,” says the Professor, is one that must be ever interesting to a feeling mind-the return of a person, after a long absence, to the place where he had spent his early years—it is, in fact, an Arabian deSERTED VILLAGE.

Those dear abodes which once contain'd the fair,

Amidst Mitata's wilds I seek in vain,
Nor towers, nor tents, nor cottages are there,

But scatter'd ruins, and a silent plain.
The proud canals that once RAYANA grac'd,

Their course neglected and their waters gone,
Among the level'd sands are dimly trac'd,

Like moss-grown letters on a mouldering stone.
Rayana say, how many a tedious year

Its hallow'd circle o'er our heads hath roll'd,
Since to my vows thy tender maids gave ear,

And fondly listen’d to the tale I told ?
How oft, since then, the star of spring, that pours

A never-failing stream, hath drench'd thy head?
How oft, the summer cloud in copious showers,

Or gentle drops, its genial influence shed ?
How oft, since then, the hovering mist of morn

Hath caus'd thy locks with glittering gems to glow?
How oft hath eve her dewy treasures borne,

To fall responsive to the breeze below?
The matted thistles, bending to the gale,

Now clothe those meadows once with verdure gay;
Amidst the windings of that lonely vale

The teeming antelope and ostrich stray:

The large-ey'd mother of the herd, that flies

Man's noisy haunts, here finds a sure retreat,
Here tends her clustering young, till age supplies

Strength to their limbs and swiftness to their feet.
Save where the swelling stream hath swept those walls,

And giv’n their deep foundations to the light
(As the retouching pencil that recals

A long-lost picture to the raptur'd sight.)
Save where the rains have wash'd the gather'd sand,

And bared the scanty fragments to our view,
(As the * dust sprinkled on a punctur'd hand,

Bids the faint tints resume their azure hue.)
No mossy record of those once-lor'd seats

Points out the mansion to enquiring eyes;
No tottering wall, in echoing sounds, repeats

Our mournful questions and our bursting sighs.
Yet midst those ruin'd heaps, that naked plain,

Can faithful memory former scenes restore,
Recal the busy throng, the jocund train,

And picture all that charm'd us there before.
Ne'er shall my heart the fatal morn forget,

That bore the fair ones from these seats so dear-
I see, I see the crowding litters yet,

And yet the tent-poles rattle in my ear.
I see the maids with timid steps ascend,

The streamers wave in all their painted pride,
The floating curtains every fold extend,

And vainly strive the charms within to hide.

* It is a custom with the Arabian women, in order to give the veins of their hands and arms a more brilliant appearance, to make slight punctures along them, and to rub into the incisions a blue powder, which they renew occa. sionally, as it happens to wear out,

What graceful forms those envious folds inclose !

What melting glances thro' those curtains play!
Sure Weira's antelopes, or Judah's roes,

Thro' yonder veils their sportive young survey.

The band mov'd on-to trace their steps I strove,

I saw them urge the camel's hastening flight,
Till the white * vapour, like a rising grove,

Snatch'd them for ever from my aching sight.

Nor since that morn have I NAWARA seen,

The bands are burst which held us once so fast,
Memory but tells me that such things have been,

And sad Reflection adds that they are past t.

The same chastity and simplicity of style, which distinguish the best ages of Arabian poetry, are, likewise, to be found in their prose writings, produced during the same period. The Arabian Tales, or the Thousand and One Nights, are said, by those who are judges of the original, to be frequently specimens of the most simple and elegant diction. They were written, it is probable, during the most flourishing era of the Khaliphat, in the space included between the eighth and twelfth centuries, when the language of Arabia, to use the words of Mr. Richardson, was “sublime, comprehensive, copious, energetic, delicate, majestic; adapted equally for the softness of love, or the poignancy of satire ; for the mournfulness of elegy, or the grandeur of heroics; for the simplest tale, or the boldest effort of rhetoric *.” What strongly corroborates the supposition of their antiquity is their freedom from any

* The vapour here alluded to, called by the Arabians Serab, is not unlike in appearance (and probably proceeding from a similar cause) to those white mists which we often see huvering over the surface of a river, in a summer's evening, after a hot day. They are very frequent in the sultry plains of Arabia, and, when seen at a distance, resemble an expanded lake; but upon a nearer approach, the thirsty traveller perceives his deception. f Carlyle's Specimens of Arabian Poetry, p. 5. VOL. II.

allusion to modern customs, manners, or events, to the use of gunpowder, or to the enterprising efforts of European travellers and navigators.

It may likewise be affirmed, that had they been recent productions, the offspring of the fifteenth, sixteenth, or seventeenth century, the language would have partaken of that inflation and turgidity, which almost invariably characterize the prose works of modern oriental writers. To be convinced of this, I have only to refer the reader to the Tales of Inatulla, as literally translated by Mr. Scott. These productions form a species of romance, under the title of BaharDanush, or Garden of Knowledge, written by the Persian EINAINT COLLAH, Anno Domini 1650, in the reign of the Emperor Shaw Jehaun. Than the style of this work nothing can be more bombastic, puerile, and absurd; it is loaded with monstrous epithets, incongruous metaphors, and the most ridiculous conceits; while the incidents are, for the most part, licentious, trifling, and jejune.

* Preface to his Arabic Grammar.

It is to be regretted that, either from ignorance or false taste, the imitators of oriental fable have, in general, rather chosen to copy the tumid style, which for some centuries has prevailed among


prose writers of Persia, than the pure and correct manner of what may be termed the classical authors of Arabia. Hence have we been deluged with such a quantity of bloated composition, under the title of Oriental Tales. A most striking exception, however, to this erroneous taste, we possess in the writings of Addison, whose eastern tales and apologues are written in language of the greatest simplicity and purity.

If we take the Arabian Tales *, therefore, as a model, we shall perceive they may be defined, as containing a series of wild and wonderful incidents, copiously mingled with the superstitions and preternatural machinery of the East, faith

* These have lately been very elegantly translated from the French version, by the Rev. Edward Forster; a very acceptable present to the public, as the old translation was not only incorrect, but coarse and vulgar in its diction.

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